It’s been just over a month since I got back from a fabulous week of juicing in Spain and I have to say I’m now a juicing convert – well 70% of the time. That was the main message I took away from my time at D-Toxd – a beautiful, self-sustaining health and wellbeing centre nestled in the Sierra Bernia mountains outside Benissa in Southern Spain – as long as you eat well 70% of the time, you’ll basically be ok. Everything in moderation – I like that.
I wasn’t sure what to expect when I agreed to accompany my BFF to what I thought was a kind of yoga / health spa near Alicante. But when she said I could lose about 8lbs in one week and the place had a swimming pool I was immediately off to buy some Euros. She told me not to pack anything but sports kit and swim wear – advice I obviously ignored. Even when I paid the baggage allowance to Easy Jet, I was sure my dresses, high heels and make up would be put to good use.
I realised when we got there that perhaps she was right. But I wasn’t disappointed. After a breath-taking drive up a long and winding road through the mountains, we reached a stunning large white property. A cheery Irish girl called Brenda came out to meet us and walked us through a beautiful dining area and hallway to a lovely twin bedroom called ‘Forrest’ whose double French doors opened out onto the swimming pool. The place was immaculately landscaped and had the most amazing view of the mountains. A majestic wind turbine turned gently in the breeze at the foot of the garden and the solar panels on the roof glistened brightly.
Brenda came out to meet us and walked us through a beautiful dining area and hallway to a lovely twin bedroom called ‘Forrest’ whose double French doors opened out onto the swimming pool.
We were the first people to arrive at the property which caters for only 12 guests at a time. Each of the rooms were individually decorated and there was a large dining area with a huge table, and a sitting room with a grand piano and an open log fire. I didn’t think we were going to need to light the fire in May as it was already 30 degrees (perfect for that pool) but it would be so cosy in the winter.
Throughout the first day the other guests arrived – a fabulous mixture of women and men mainly from the UK and the US. I appeared to be the only juicing newbee of the group but everyone was extremely excited about the week ahead so I wasn’t put off.
Our evening meal on that first night – and so it transpired, my last actual meal for the next three days – was the most utterly delicious vegetable paella I have ever tasted. Served by the owners Jeroen and Gareth on huge platter, it a vegetable feast fit for a king. I had four portions!
After dinner we were given a talk on healthy eating from the lovely Louse, one of the centre’s fitness instructors. That was when I learned that if the ingredients on your plate are 70% alkaline and 30% acid then your body will feel the better for it and you will be able to mantain a good, healthy weight. It’s the same idea for how to balance your day or even your week – 70% good (fruit, veg etc), 30% bad (anything that has lived and died, alcohol, chocolate etc). For me, that was nice and easy to remember, and not too hard to maintain. I thought that after I got home I could eat a very healthy breakfast and lunch, and allow a bit of the 30% to creep into my dinner, or at the weekends.
The juicing began in earnest the next day and continued for three full days. We had breakfast juice, mid morning juice, lunch juice, mid afternoon snack juice and dinner juice. There was always a choice and each was served in a glass bottle with your name on it, which was very cute. What surprised me was that I was never hungry during these three days, and the juices themselves – some of which were made mainly from vegetables – were absolutely delicious, very refreshing and extremely filling.
A well thought-out exercise timetable – all of which the booklet carefully noted was optional – kicked off the next morning. From then the days had a gentle rhythm to them with most of the activities taking place outside in the sunshine. Each day started at 8am with a yoga or pilates class. At that time the sun was just coming up which lifted my spirits despite my creaking bones and tight muscles. It was just so nice to be outside! At 9.00am the first juice was served, well earned after all the sun salutations and abs work. At 10.00am we set off for a long walk in the hills around the property. Now I don’t usually do a lot of walking – it’s difficult in high heels – and although I’d say I’m quite fit, these walks were quite a work out! They were great fun though as everyone chatted while they walked so you heard everyone’s life stories, supplemented by word play and puzzles from the Irish volunteer, Shane.
Then it was back for mid-morning juice and some sun at the pool before the cardio class with Louise began at 12. On the first day she had us all running round the pool and doing lunges off some steps – oh my word did I feel my calf muscles the next day. At 1pm lunch juice was served and most people gathered round the pool to recover form the morning’s exertions.
Next at 2pm came some internal exercising – that is to say, some group discussions on a number of topics to help motivate, empower and heal. These were led by Gareth and Jeroen – both trained counsellors who brought the discussions to life with their own experiences. People shared or didn’t share. Some became emotional. All felt better and stronger afterwards.
Meanwhile another class was gearing up at 4pm. This was usually Rebounce – trampolining! Great jumping fun to music and a sure way to lose some pounds! Then came the mid-afternoon snack and some down-time to sit around the pool or enjoy some of the spa treatments offered in the beautiful treatment area. As well as the usual massages and facials, D-Toxd also offers energy treatments such as Reiki. I decided to try the Cranial Sacrum treatment – something I had never tried before – and had a very powerful and moving experience at the skilled hands of Brenda. Next came dinner juice just after 6pm and then a movie or another walk.
My roomie and I were invariably in bed by about 9pm – no wonder after all that fresh air and exercise. We slept well and made sure we got up every morning for the 8.00am class.
On the fourth day, the menu started to reintroduce food. I have never been so excited to see a fruit salad in all my life! And so tasty. From then on the fabulous chefs introduced us to extremely healthy, delicious and easy to cook food. On the very last evening we had a three course banquet for dinner, and a glass of wine (remember the 30% rule) and we all praised the efforts of the staff for treating us to a fantastic week.
I really had the most amazing time. Being outside, eating well, doing lots of walking and exercising
I really had the most amazing time. Being outside, eating well, doing lots of walking and exercising – all in the company of interesting and fun people was so refreshing. I didn’t realise I would have enjoyed myself quite so much without alcohol, make up or high heels. My BFF was right after all – I only wore sports gear, swim wear and flip flops. You should pack one nice outfit for the last supper fiesta and maybe some lip gloss but other than that you really can travel light.
And everyone did lose those pounds – the average weight loss was about 7lbs which everyone was very pleased about. So I left a bit lighter, with some new friends for life, armed with some good tips on how to stay slim and eat well. I have since bought, and broken a juicer, and bought a new one. I’ve been juicing every morning and have been consciously considering my 70/30 split at every meal. I’m even starting to like courgettes.
I’d like to thank my BFF for inviting me and all of the staff at D-Toxd, in particular Jeroen, Gareth, Brenda, Louise and Shane the Irish volunteer, for a fabulous holiday. I will definitely be back…